Sunday’s Classic / Getting Better Shots of Your Trophies

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Show off the fish not the hands. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Way back before we had digital cameras, I can remember how excited I would be racing to the closest One-Hour Photo store to get my film developed. The anticipation of waiting to review my big fish photos was almost as fun for me as catching the trophy. I wish I could say all those developed photos came out perfect but that’s far from the truth. Some came out great but the majority were blurry, had my head cut off, or I was holding the fish like a rookie. Nowadays we have the luxury of instant feedback with digital cameras, so we don’t have any excuse to not get good photo when the fish cooperates. Below are four tips for capturing better photographs of your trophies with examples of the right and wrong way to hold your fish. Keep in mind there is a learning curve for handling big fish. The more you do it the better you get.

1. Hold the fish with the tips of your fingers not your palms


2. Hold the fish level, making sure the head and tail of the fish are on the same plane


3. Keep the back of the fish perpendicular to the water


4. Cradle the fish behind its pectoral fins


Above are four of the most common mistakes I see anglers making when they’re trying to get a good photograph of their trophy. Take your time, always handle your fish gently and humanely, and don’t be afraid to look down to make sure your holding the fish correctly. If you do this you’ll find the majority of your photos will turn out great.

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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15 thoughts on “Sunday’s Classic / Getting Better Shots of Your Trophies

  1. Great advise…sometimes in the excitement your advise is not easy to remember but it helps that your partner keeps their head so great memories can be caught.

  2. I always seem to screw up fish pictures. It doesn’t help that I regularly fish alone. Juggling rod, net, camera, and fish is far beyond my level of coordination, both mental and physical. Add to that my haste to return the prize safely to the stream and I end up with missing heads/tails, poorly focused shots, fly line everywhere, and the composition of a four-year-old. Usually I just don’t bother.

    Besides, a fish unphotographed is always three inches larger than one that is.

    But good advice, Kent. Thanks!

  3. Kent,
    I always made sure my hands were wet before handling a trout. This would help to protect their scales from rubbing off. I’m not sure if this was a correct way to handle a fish. What are your thoughts on this situation?

    • Robert,

      It’s good practice to always wet your hands before handling a trout, but pretty much all fish. When you do so it help protect from you damaging their protective coating fish have, that protects them from infection.


  4. I have the same problem as Mike. I almost always fish by meself. I have found that if I can set my camera to video and place it on a handy flat rock I can get some fair video and often get a good screen shot of me holding the fish. My camera is a rugged little Olympus that is water proof so I don’t have to worry about hurting it.

  5. This is a great post. I’ve a lot of pretty average pictures of me with fish. Any advice on how to keep the fish from flopping around too much?

    • Brian,

      Don’t be in a rush to grab the fish out of the net. Keep it in the water and gently hold the fish. Wait for it to settle down and when it does, slowly raise the fish for a quick photo and immediately put it back in the water, revive and release. Most people try to rush this process.


  6. i thought that my pentax waterproof would get me great shots underwater. never got a good 1 cause i’m not underwater to compose so its hit err miss or miss. maybe the video mode is the way to go… any other thoughts?

    • Bill,

      Try staying a little farther away from the fish you’re trying to shoot. Getting too close is probably the most common mistake. Two, if you’re with a friend take pictures from different distances and angles while you are reviving the trout. Three, keep your fingers crossed for good light and clear water.


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